In years past, there were very specific reasons to buy either the BMW M3 or the ALPINA B3 over one another. Both cars were very different machines, with the M3 being the sharper, handling-focused sports car and the B3 acting as the more mature performance alternative. Now, though, with this next-gen G80 BMW M3, the two cars will be closer than ever before.
As we’ve learned over the last few months, the next-gen M3 will be the first ever to offer all-wheel drive. It will also be available with a traditional automatic gearbox; no rapid-fire dual-clutch this time. So with all-wheel drive and a torque-converter eight-speed auto, the BMW M3 will be easier to drive, and more usable through the seasons, than ever before. Which has always been the attraction of the ALPINA B3; it’s the car you get when you want M3 performance without the discomfort.
While the G80 BMW M3 is likely to still be the sharper product, and it will have a sportier interior, it’s going to be the most approachable and comfortable M3 yet. We’ve already noticed the superb refinement of the current-gen 3 Series in almost every form. So this new M3 will likely be the most refined M3 in its history. Combine that extra refinement with a smooth-shifting automatic gearbox and all-wheel drive and you’ve got yourself a very livable, high-performance daily-driver. Gone are the days of high-strung, hardcore M3s, like the original E30.
That said, the ALPINA B3 will still be the more comfortable car. It will have a more luxurious interior, a more comfortable ride and a quieter cabin. It will also be better at high-speed cruising. But don’t mistake that comfort for weakness. In fact, the B3 has always been right up there with the M3 in terms of straight-line speed. Actually, sometimes ALPINA products have better straight-line performance than M Divison products. Where they typically differ is everyday usability, ride comfort and luxury.
When the ALPINA B3 debuts, it will likely have some sort of modified B58 engine and it will almost certainly be every bit as fast as the G80 BMW M3. It will just combine that speed with extra refinement. So there’s still going to be a reason to buy one over the M3. However, the gap is closing between the two cars, for better or worse, and it should be interesting to see how they compare once they’re finally on the road together.